Thank you to all those who contacted me about the welfare of fish.
All animals deserve protection – whether on a farm, at home as a pet, at large in the wild, or in the sea.
The Humane League, Animal Equality UK and the RSPCA have all raised concerns about the environmental and welfare conditions surrounding fishing, including water quality, handling procedures, the density of fish being kept together in water, transport, and methods of slaughter.
I am aware the Animal Welfare Committee’s Update to the 2014 FAWC Opinion on the Welfare of Farmed Fish at the Time of Killing has been published on both the Scottish and Welsh Government’s websites, but remains absent from the UK Government’s. Although the UK Government has said the Committee’s advice and recommendations are used in policy development, it has also advised that it will not be issuing a response.
The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act was passed in 2022 which recognised the sentience in UK law of any vertebrate, excluding homo sapiens. As fish are vertebrate, they would be included within this legislation. I supported this Act and also strongly supported the inclusion of decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs within its remit, which the Opposition called for from the beginning of its passage through Parliament.
However, this legislation was a missed opportunity. I believe the Government needs to be more comprehensive in its approach and go much further and faster on animal welfare. As such, I will continue to call for UK animal welfare to be of the highest standard.